“It feels so good to get together again,” I said to a friend the other day.

“It feels so good to laugh again,” she responded.

And that, I think, pretty much sums it up.

We were part of a neighborhood group that used to get together once a month to play Bunko, a dice game that’s fairly mindless, allowing for plenty of chatting, joking, and nibbling on snacks in between taking turns rolling the dice. It requires 12 players, who switch partners after every game, and switch tables after every four-game round. So everyone connects with everyone else at some point in the afternoon.

Since this is something that cannot be done online – at least, we never figured out a way – we haven’t gotten together since the initial lockdown almost a year and a half ago. So once we determined it was safe to meet again in person, we had lots of catching up to do. And lots of laughing, including when someone lost track of who was partners with whom, or got confused over which table they were supposed to move to next, or forgot how to handle things such as a roll-off, which is called for if one table has a tied score when someone at another table yells, “Bunko,” signifying the end of a game.

These were silly things, of course, but all good for a laugh. And they made me think about something that’s actually quite serious, which is how important – and therapeutic – laughter is in our lives.

While everyone was in lockdown and practicing social distancing, much of the focus was on the lack of physical contact, and how miserable we were at not being able to hug and hold our loved ones. We didn’t give as much thought – at least I didn’t – to all we were missing by not being able, on a regular basis, to laugh, long and loud, with our family and friends. Granted, there wasn’t as much to laugh about during the worst of the pandemic. And laughter just isn’t the same online or over the phone as it is when we’re with each other in person. Which is why it felt so good to be with friends, laughing over mental lapses and “oops” moments as we got reacquainted with the game and each other.

Although there is still much to be concerned with regarding COVID, if you are able to safely meet with others socially, whether it’s a family get-together, a night out with friends, or a neighborhood book club or Bunko game, I hope the occasion provides you with some good laughs.

It may not be a vaccine, but laughter is still the best medicine.

July 23, 2021
©Betty Liedtke, 2021

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